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By the way: New Cabinet news ⁠— stunning wives, #JokowiChallenge

Ati Nurbaiti

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Fri, October 25, 2019  /  05:55 pm
By the way: New Cabinet news ⁠— stunning wives, #JokowiChallenge

New challenge: President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and Vice President Ma'ruf Amin introduce Indonesia's new Cabinet members at Merdeka Palace in Jakarta on Wednesday. (JP/Seto Wardhana)

In the wake of a tiring election, people look to the Cabinet as one way to bring some unity to their own circle of friends and family.

Now that the President has announced his “Indonesia Onward" Cabinet people are howling over perceived misfits.

"I told you so", say the nonvoters in quiet glee, the “Golput” who were scolded as lunatics, stupid and the irrelevant tiny “2 percent” by the now rather confused “Jokowers”.

“I’m feeling nauseous,” said one loyalist of the reelected President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.

Alhamdulillah [thank God]”, said one voter for his rival, Prabowo Subianto. As the new defense minister, “China will be scared to attack us.”

The former Special Forces commander is regarded as a tough guy who will stand up to all potential enemies, never mind the utterly saddened survivors of human rights violations and their defenders.

Some Prabowo loyalists are disgusted that he has happily joined Jokowi’s circle; so voters are reminding each other, "can we move on?" The contestants are hugging each other like Teletubbies and we’re still fuming over cebong (tadpole) and kampret (bat), the unfortunate members of the animal kingdom that came to be used as insults to attack followers Jokowi and Prabowo, respectively.

The new Cabinet features friends, relatives and spouses of those in power, and even less women than Jokowi’s first Cabinet.

All smiles: First Lady Iriana Widodo and the Vice President's wife Wury Estu Handayani take a photo with Indonesian officials and Cabinet members at Merdeka Palace in Jakarta on Wednesday. All smiles: First Lady Iriana Widodo and the Vice President's wife Wury Estu Handayani take a photo with Indonesian officials and Cabinet members at Merdeka Palace in Jakarta on Wednesday. (JP/Seto Wardhana)

Generating equal noise is the interest people are taking in the spouses of the new members of government.

"Wooww, the wife of the elderly Vice President Ma’ruf Amin is so young and beautiful ... he got such a good catch after his wife died."

"And who’s that lovely lady, wow, the wife of new Education and Culture Minister Nadiem Makarim!" Though admired as the pioneer ride hailing app Gojek, speculation mounts about how he will lead a ministry not known for being clean, while also being responsible for all the stresses of school students, with their heavy bags and homework.

My daughter hoped the education minister would be a woman who would surely care about the education of her kids; indeed, we have always had a man in this post. 

I really hope Nadiem, who has enjoyed an American education, will want young Indonesians to enjoy childhood and stop overloading them with more than a dozen subjects and all that homework and memorizing.

The critics can howl all they want but surely Jokowi is betting the 35-year-old Nadiem will long outlive the howlers as he prepares our youth for the nation’s centenary in 2045, when Jokowi said Indonesia would be a top world economy with brilliant digital savvy people.

"And where", some cried, "is Susi Pudjiastuti?" Her bold antiques as fisheries minister were maybe enough for one term, even daring to sink illegal fishing boats of powerful China, dancing the night away in her heels and famed leg tattoo, as seen in a viral video.

The finance minister remains the same, a good decision as the World Bank might have snatched Sri Mulyani Indrawati again.

Among the unknowns is new Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection Minister I Gusti Ayu Bintang Darmawati. Known only as the wife of a former minister, she hails from Bali and will represent eastern Indonesia.

If the critics are questioning what she knows about leading the nation on gender equality, well the others before her were a bit clueless too. Little progress has been made in “gender mainstreaming”, experts say. It’s one of those well-meaning terms that everyone was a bit hazy about but were too scared to ask feminists what it exactly meant, while donor countries were hammering on that we had to have it.

For all the prejudices against the wives of the powerful, there’s Linda Gumelar, a former women’s empowerment minister, who has the legacy of reaching out and being willing to learn from others when she was in the Cabinet of former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

When she received the phone call for the Cabinet post, she reportedly told the caller that her husband, former army officer Agum Gumelar, was in the bathroom. She was surprised that it was she who was being summoned, and with her experience as a leader of the Indonesian Women’s Congress (Kowani), a national women’s organization during the Soeharto era, she trotted out with her big hair and did all she could.

Tied up in knots: Former actor-turned- yoga guru Anjasmara pulls of the Jokowi challenge, sitting cross-legged and crossed-feet like Jokowi.Tied up in knots: Former actor-turned- yoga guru Anjasmara pulls of the Jokowi challenge, sitting cross-legged and crossed-feet like Jokowi. (Courtesy of Instagram/Anjasmara)

Another item of breaking Cabinet news comes from former actor-turned-yoga guru Anjasmara who started the #JokowiChallenge.  

“Can you sit cross-legged and crossed-feet like Jokowi?” he asked alongside a picture of the new ministers sitting with the President and Vice President on the palace steps. Anjasmara proudly posted a photograph of himself with a beaming smile proving that he indeed could!

The slender President is the only one looking casual in a pose turns out to be quite hard for those with stiffer legs. So stop all that criticizing for a minute and try that pose. Ouch! (ste)